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Your Project Teams Sucks: Part 6 | You Follow the Philosophy of an Aging Rock-Star

Updated: May 25

I’m not going to name names, but anyone who knows anything about popular music from the 70s and 80s can probably figure out who I’m talking about… Please don’t sue us.

This particular rocker has gone on long tirades, claiming that rock music is dead, because none of these young artists are as talented as he was, and rock music has gone soft, and that the fault of rock dying lies completely on the fans. To this, I say he can Kiss my fucking ass.

Brian slapping Stewie saying "get rekt big boy

How does this octogenarian piece of shit fit in with your project team sucking?

You Shit on Innovation and Experimentation

Captain fuckstick loves to shit on newer rock bands playing with genre and sounds, claiming that they are just following pop music trends when The Bell-End was able to capitalize on a changing pop music scene by releasing a fucking disco song. Yeah… kings of metal released a fucking disco tune. What do you call that? I call it fucking hypocrisy.

In the same vein, I see PMOs that discourage experimenting with new methodologies, or trying innovative things, yet, when they were coming up as junior PMs, they cut their teeth during a time of growth in PM methodologies. This is something that goes much further than just PM circles. There is an underlying belief that “our generation was the best generation.” What this philosophy fails to acknowledge is that the new generations are building off of what came before them. If you think that their thinking sucks, the foundation you left them fucking sucked.

I’ll say it again…


Do you know how I know that the Beatles are arguably the greatest band to exist in modern times? Because they inspired artists after them to achieve greatness far beyond what the Beatles could have hoped to achieve. That is the mark of greatness. Not that you were the best and no one will ever top you. The mark of mastery is reflected by the greatness of the student.

It is infuriating to hear these old-timer PMs argue that their way is the best way because their generation of PMs created Agile, and earned value management, and Lean Six Sigma, and (sometimes) created the entire concept of project management! Innovation was good for them, but not for you.

You Sabotage the Up and Comers Out of a Dreaded Fear of Being Irrelevant

Admiral Overcompensation likes to shit on any band that came after his band did. The thing is, any ticket sales that they get right now are based off of nostalgia, not because they are still relevant in any way. How does he rectify this in his ignorant hate-filled mind? Well, he says things that will get him press coverage, so he can claim that he’s still great, even though, let’s be honest, it’s really fucking sad. Other bands that are contemporaries to the artist who is Depends customer of the year understand that their tickets are driven by nostalgia, and they lean into it and are successful because of it.

I think that many of us can accept that at this point, Agile is a fucking cult.

1. Hey are you all with the cult? 2, if you think that agile is a cult, it's just because you're not doing it right. 1. yeah, this is it

Take a look at your project team. Is Agile working for you? No seriously… take a long, hard, honest look at your project team. Ask the participants, is Agile working? How much do you honestly stick to Agile principles? I would be willing to say that the answers are: ok, I guess; ok, not good at all; everyone kinda hates it; we’ve basically invented our own form of Agile at this point.

In every conversation I have with heads of the PMO, they love to go on and on about how they are an Agile company, and how great Agile is, but once you start to ask questions about what Agile methodology they employ, it starts to fall apart. Oh, well, we’re more of a hybrid house. Uh, actually, it’s more of our own thing, we kinda follow scrum, I guess, but mostly it’s just about running lean and getting things done like Agile.

The reason you won’t let people try new things that might work better for your organization… you are deathly afraid that your experience will become irrelevant. What are you going to do with all your years of experience working with Agile teams, if PMs start employing new methodologies? You’re too old to open a florist shop in Vermont, you’d be fucked!

So, what are you to do? Might as well ensure that the up-and-comers are just as locked into a methodology as you are, that way, they will share your fear of being irrelevant. All the while being completely blind to the fact that you are holding on to a dying philosophy out of fucking nostalgia.

Looming Obsolescence Makes You Defensive

I’ll take a quick break from calling out Monsieur Dingleberry to call out a concept that frustrates many junior workers.

Allow me to introduce you to the Flynn Effect. The Flynn Effect basically describes the phenomenon that younger generations are smarter than the previous generation. It’s something that has been well documented and explored by great minds, all of which are a lot smarter than my dumbass.

As the younger generation enters the workforce, and it becomes apparent that their knowledge has already surpassed your experience, you go on the defensive. Suddenly, they don’t know anything. All they do is spend all day on the phone. What the fuck is autotune?

Simpsons meme, where there is a picture of Gene Simmons on a clipped newspaper where the headline reads "old man yells at cloud"
Please don't sue us

If you’ve ever started a sentence with “those goddamn millennials…” then you fall into this group. No one wants to hear that they aren’t the smartest person in the room, but the fact of the matter is, when the younger workforce was growing up, they were watching you fuck-up. They saw the struggles, they now see the effects of shitty business practices, they grew up through multiple recessions, a major terrorist attack, and a fucking pandemic, and through that all they’ve still gone to school and gotten a degree. They are not only smarter than you in book learning, but they’ve crammed an entire lifetime of experience into 20 short years.

Rather than defaulting to the defensive "those damn kids" attitude, capitalize on their accelerated life experience and their incredible depth of knowledge.

Don’t cling to the glory days by shutting out those who could help you grow and contribute. Just because you were a rock star in your younger days, doesn’t mean you can’t learn a thing or two from young musicians. If Phil Collins can collaborate with Bone Thugs -n- Harmony, Ozzy Osbourne with Jessica Simpson, and Paul McCartney with Rihanna and Kanye West, then you can collaborate with a 25-year-old college grad who has an idea to fix the slog of daily stand-ups.

Miley Cyrus posing with Billy Idol, after covering the Generation X hit song Rebel Yell at the iHeart Music Festival
Miley's cover of Rebel Yell was badass... fight me

There is no reason why you should feel defensive when you are realizing that you are becoming obsolete. Instead, combine your talents and knowledge with that of the younger members. It can make a huge difference in ensuring that your influence lasts beyond your tenure. You might become obsolete, but your influence won’t.

Embrace Obsolescence

Stepping away from the Vicar of Viagra, let’s talk about some quality people. During the brief time I worked in Hollywood, I heard several stories about world-renowned rock stars taking a few moments to teach a young fan a riff on the guitar. The first time someone told me the story it was Billie Joe Armstrong teaching a 12-year-old the bridge to one of his songs (true or not, doesn’t matter, my point will still stand).

I think we all understand that there wasn’t a parallel dimension where that 12-year-old took over as the front-man for Green Day, but that’s not the point. Every young guitarist starts off learning the opening riff to Smoke on the Water. Without guidance, how the hell are they supposed to mature to the point that they can play La Villa Strangiato?

How do you achieve good-guy rock star status?

Mentor your younger team members. Train and teach them to the point that they can easily take over your position. Make yourself obsolete. Your experience is valuable, but it’s more valuable when that experience is passed on to others. Your protégé probably won’t be the new front person for Green Day, but they might just go on to do great things. Great things because you took the time to show them how to play Smoke on the Water.


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